Last week, Saint Arnold did something they've never done before, re-release a Divine Reserve (well sorta, but more than that in a minute). Last Thursday, marked the release of a new seasonal, released only in Bombers and on draft of Pumpkinator. It ended up being a lot harder to find than many expected. Most folks thought that Pumpkinator would be no different than any other Saint Arnold's seasonal, but that wasn't the case, as it turned out to be kind of a Divine Reserve type day with folks tweeting about where to find a bottle or two. Folks have been calling this a re-release of Divine Reserve 9, which in a way it is, but it also isn't an entirely correct statement either. Yes both are Imperial Pumpkin stouts, made with lots of pumpkin and spices, but DR9 weighed in at 11%, Pumpkinator weighs in at 9.5%, so there is a difference and abv can affect a lot about a beer. So how different are these beers? I have had DR9 at different stages of its life, read about my thoughts here, and here. However, in honor of Pumpkinator's release, I wanted to know how DR9 was tasting now, about 2 years after its release, so I did a tasting of both beers and here are my thoughts:
Pumpkinator: It pours very dark, with a little taupe colored head. A ton of spices on the nose with just a hint of pumpkin and some roasted malts. Medium bodies, maybe a little light, but not bad. Lots of carbonation which was surprising, very spicy, lots of cinnamon, cloves, and that same hint of pumpkin. Its liquid pumpkin pie. Really spicy, but I don't believe its as harsh as I remember fresh DR9 being. The beer is almost chewy its pie-like qualities. As it warms, it gets really good, some chocolatey coco notes come out that play really well with the pumpkin. There is some boozy notes, but again not nearly as much as DR9. A very good beer.
Divine Reserve 9: It pours a very dark chocolate black with a quarter inch head of taupe colored foam that quickly dissipates into a thin cap around the surface of the beer. The nose is of dark fruits, sweet malts and fruitiness. Some canned pumpkin and just a hint of those pumpkin pie spices. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, lots of roasted malts, figs, raisins, dark chewy malts. Cake like, I compare it to a chocolate pumpkin fudge brownie. Most of the spices are gone now, but there is still some light alcohol notes, but its not unpleasant. A great beer that has aged wonderfully and has some more years to go.
The Verdict: Two good beers. I think I might like Pumpkinator a little more fresh than I did DR9. There is a smoothness and a roundness that wasn't there on the DR release. However, I also don't think Pumpkinator will age as well as DR9 has. DR9 was so powerful when first released that it needed time, Pumpkinator is good now. Yes it will age and do so very well I think, just not as well as DR9. Both are good beers, and its a step in the right direction for Saint Arnold to start a special seasonal release of bomber beers. The next one to be released will be in the spring and will be a version of Divine Reserve 11, definitely one to look out for.